In Nitzavim/Vayelech, Moses describes the covenant between God and the Israelites, urging them to uphold it and honor the Torah so that they will be rewarded with the gift of life in the land of Israel. Moses tells them to remember that they dwelled in the land of Egypt and witnessed the Egyptians worshipping their idols and he warns that if they act idolatrously and stray from the covenant, God will set them apart as evil. If they keep the covenant, they can attain God’s blessings.
Despite social differences and separation within the nation, Moses asks every single person to share this commitment. The “gift” of life and blessing is important to everybody, and Moses wants the whole nation to feel valued and connected to one another through community.
To me, the words of Moses hold true as we come to the New Year. Hillels promote a pluralistic environment where everybody is on the same level, regardless of their background. Through the craziness of back-to-back programs, Shabbat dinners, and a plethora of “welcome back” events, we must remember to always provide an atmosphere of community and connection. We want to give that “gift of life” to every student who enters – whether they’re fresh out of 4+ years of participating in national youth group or have not explored a drop of their Jewish identity just yet. By being part of our Hillel covenant and having willingness to try, we will always give them opportunities to grow.
Rachael Harvey, Engagement Associate/Ezra Fellow at Towson Hillel